The Filipino Connection in San Antonio Spurs

Just as the Philippine stock market investors and traders were scrambling last Friday, June 21, 2013, either for bargain buying or panic selling, the rest of the Filipinos were glued in to their TV sets and PC’s to watch the NBA championship match between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.

Twitter and Facebook accounts of most Filipinos, Fil-Ams, and Feel-Ams rooted for the Filipino basketball pride, Erik Spoelstra. The youngest Asian-American coach to ever win an NBA championship with the Miami Heat.

Erik Spoelstra in 2009

Batang Laguna Coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat

Before Erik Spoelstra, there was Chip “The Machine Gun” Engelland

While coach Erik has brought pride to the Filipino nation and Asia as a whole, there was one guy who proudly donned the Philippine colors and brought glory to the country back in the 80’s.

The man known as the Machine Gun in the PBA and the local hoops scene first mentored the Triggerman Allan Caidic, and a host of other local hotshots like Pido Jarencio, Naning Valenciano, Franz Pumaren, among others to improve their shooting skills long before he taught Tony Parker, Steve Kerr, Shane Battier, and Grant Hill.

The man is no other than San Antonio Spurs assistant coach and player development mentor Chip Engelland who became a naturalized Filipino and played under Northern Consolidated Cement and San Miguel Beermen in the PBA from 1980 to 1986.


Chip Engelland with teammates Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, etc. of the Northern Consolidated Cement team (Philippine National Team)

Coach Chip was one of the deadliest outside shooters in the land and in Asia back then. Because of his shooting prowess, he helped the Philippines captured the championship trophy in the Jones Cup in 1985 by defeating the Team USA.

When the Marcos regime ended, Chip chances to represent the country or play locally started to fade. That’s when he decided to go back the US to play more basketball in the CBA and the World Basketball League and retired eventually after those stints.

And although he never got to play in the NBA, his credentials as a prolific player for the Philippines have earned him high respect in the American basketball scene.

He did not expect to be hired this time in the NBA, not as a player but as an assistant coach to several teams such as the Detroit Pistons, the Denver Nuggets, and now with the San Antonio Spurs both as a successful assistant coach and players’ developmental skills mentor.

While every Filipino basketball should be proud of coach Erik, I believe coach Chip deserves a similar recognition and spot in the Philippine basketball Hall of Fame (together with two Filipino-Americans who made it to the NBA: Raymond Townsend and Ricardo Brown).

Chip engelland

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Photo credits:

Erik Spoelstra, Wikimedia Commons
Chip Engelland, Wikimedia Commons